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Source: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
25 March 1997

United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
Executive Board

Hundred and fifty-first Session

              151 EX/4
              PARIS, 25 March 1997
              Original: English
Item 3.2.1 of the provisional agenda


In this document, the Director-General reports to the Executive Board on the measures he has taken to give effect to 150 EX/Decision 3.2.1 and 28 C/Resolution 16.

1. The Executive Board at its 150th session adopted 150 EX/Decision 3.2.1 in which it decided to include this item on the agenda of its 151st session. In that decision, the Executive Board expressed its entire satisfaction to the Director-General and thanked him for ensuring the efficient implementation of 28 C/Resolution 16 and invited him inter alia to provide the necessary assistance to the educational establishments and to offer grants to the students of the occupied Syrian Golan and create a special fund for Palestinian higher education to be financed by voluntary contributions. The following is a summary of what the Secretariat has achieved since the last session of the Executive Board.

2. In education, UNESCO is in the process of finalizing with the Palestinian Authority (PA) a project for supporting the rehabilitation of two centres for education and basic training of disadvantaged youth in Nablus, one centre for girls and one for boys. The preliminary budget is about US $150,000, of which US $100,000 are extra-budgetary funds from Germany.

3. In January 1997, UNESCO included the Palestinian Autonomous Territories (PAT) in the UNESCO ‘Inclusive Schools and Community Support Programmes’ (financed with regard to the PAT by the Government of Norway). A contract was signed with the Palestinian Authority since that date and implementation started almost immediately.

4. The second phase of the Palestinian Curriculum Development Centre (financed by the Italian Government) started in November 1996 with an extensive campaign of information about the Five-Year Plan which was prepared in the first phase.

5. The Plan of Operations for the project ‘Norms and Standards for Educational Buildings’ (financed by the Government of Norway) was signed by UNESCO and the PA, and implementation started in April 1997.

6. From the 1996/1997 regular programme, 29 scholarships were granted in favour of Palestinian students. In addition, and within the framework of the Sponsored Fellowship Bank Programme, two short-term fellowships were offered by the National Institute for Education (NIER) of Tokyo (Japan) to enable specialists to gain insight on state-of-the-art policy and programmes in the field of curriculum development. These fellowships started in February 1997. Another six fellowships from Saudi Arabian contributions were awarded to five women and one man to enable them to pursue short-term studies abroad in a variety of fields. Another fellowship was awarded by the Abushadi Family Foundation for a female student to pursue her studies in the United Kingdom.

7. UNESCO continues to support financially the ‘Ministry’ of Education in funding some high-level personnel to help in developing the Palestinian education system. The Organization also gave a financial contribution to the ‘Ministry’ of Higher Education to conduct a conference last March on Information Technology in Higher Education.

8. From the Participation Programme, requests were approved for 1996/1997 for a total amount of US $314,000. These requests were granted to different Palestinian institutions, in particular for training and the purchase of equipment in the fields of competence of UNESCO.

9. Since the last session of the Executive Board, implementation of the following extra-budgetary projects continued and took the following form:

10. The Plan of Operations for the project concerning the ‘Elaboration of a strategy for rationalizing the development of higher education’ (financed by the Government of Norway) was signed in February 1997 and implementation started in March.

11. The PEACE Programme (sponsored by UNESCO and the European Union) organized in Nablus in November 1996 an international conference to support Palestinian universities and to help them reinforce their role in the peace-building process. The Nablus conference was the opportunity for the PEACE Programme to extend its membership from 55 universities in Europe and North America to 71 members, including the eight Palestinian universities. In partnership with UNESCO, and within the framework of staff development, 14 grants have been awarded to Palestinian students for the current academic year. Under the exchanges of staff between European and Palestinian universities, nine Palestinian young academics spent short periods of time at European universities for upgrading research and teaching abilities and 12 European academics visited Palestinian universities, mainly to discuss concrete co-operation projects. The activities of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme in archaeology and languages continued and special support for the ‘Ministry’ of Higher Education was approved. UNESCO also covered the transportation costs for a donation made by French Universities of scientific journals, books and laboratory equipment.

12. In the field of science, special support was granted to the establishment of a tissue culture laboratory within the Palestinian ‘Ministry’ of Agriculture. The project for the establishment of a water research centre in Gaza has been approved with financing by the Flemish Community in Belgium (US $540,000). The Marine Science Research Station project was submitted recently to the Portuguese Government, who have manifested a special interest in this project.

13. In the field of culture, the Bethlehem 2000 project was the major activity since the last session of the Executive Board.

14. Work on the safeguarding and restoration of the mosaics of Hisham’s Palace in Jericho has already started (financed by the Government of Italy for US $100,000). Other activities of safeguard concerning Jericho are in an advanced stage of preparation.

15. After the signature of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement regarding Hebron, UNESCO contacted the Municipality of Hebron and gave support to improve the equipment in the workshop used for the rehabilitation and safeguarding of the old city of Hebron. Technical support was also provided in favour of the rehabilitation of the old city of Nablus.

16. In February 1997, the Sector of Culture sent a donation of US $10,000 worth of UNESCO publications, mainly in the fields of education and social sciences (5-20 copies of 100 titles in English and Arabic) to the PAT for distribution amongst public libraries.

17. An international conference on music was organized last March at Birzeit University in co-operation with the ‘Ministry’ of Culture in which experts from the PAT and abroad worked together to formulate a series of recommendations for a future Palestinian policy on music to stimulate musical education, training and production, and to help develop international co­operation in this field.

18. UNESCO participated in the inauguration ceremony of the University of Tourism and Culture for Peace, sponsored by UNESCO and by the World Organization for Tourism, which was held in Marseilles on 17 February 1997.

19. In communication, an agreement was signed in January 1997 with the Italian Government to finance the modernization of the Palestinian Information Agency WAFA (US $1.5 million). Immediately afterwards, a Plan of Operations was signed with the PA and implementation started in March.

20. UNESCO’s co-operation with the Palestinian Committee was reinforced, in particular in encouraging co-operation with other National Commissions. This was the case between the Palestinian Committee for UNESCO and the Israeli National Commission for UNESCO. Both are now in the phase of implementation of the equipping of three Israeli and three Palestinian schools with Internet facilities in order to develop values of tolerance, mutual understanding and constructive dialogue. Exchanges of experience and training for Palestinian staff members were offered by the German Commission for UNESCO. This Commission was very active in finding US $100,000 dedicated to a youth training project in the PAT. The German Commission for UNESCO is also preparing a project for the organization of a summer camp in 1997, within the framework of the Associated Schools Project, for German, Israeli and Palestinian young people.

21. Within the framework of the Consultative Group, composed of donors, the Palestinian Authority, the World Bank and United Nations agencies, UNESCO participated in the meeting which was held in Paris on 19 and 20 November 1996. The President of the World Bank and President Arafat opened this meeting. During the meeting, the documents of the six priority sector working groups, entitled ‘Putting peace to work’, were distributed. UNESCO PAPP projects have been integrated in these different strategy paper documents.

22. To encourage dialogue and co-operation, UNESCO accepted to sponsor an International Forum for professional people in the Middle East, which took place in March 1997 in Israel and in the PAT. This Forum was organized by the Union Mondiale des Professions Liberales.

23. With regard to the creation of a Special Fund for Higher Education, contact has been made with the League of Arab States and Welfare Association and it was agreed to organize, before the end of 1997, a fund-raising event to collect from the private sector voluntary contributions for this fund, which has already been set up in UNESCO. The new projects proposed by the Joint UNESCO/Palestinian Authority Co-ordinating Committee are ready to be signed by the President of the Palestinian Authority and the Director-General of UNESCO. This signature will take place during the visit of the Director-General to the PAT.

24. Palestinian educational and cultural institutions in Hebron and East Jerusalem, closed under Israeli orders, have now been reopened thanks to the Hebron Agreement. However, the problem of free access and circulation for Palestinian students from Gaza in order to attend their universities in the West Bank is still unresolved.

25. The two paragraphs of 150 EX/Decision 3.2.1 regarding the occupied Syrian Golan remain unimplemented because of the occupation, but contacts have been made with the Syrian delegation to UNESCO with a view to answering the needs of this population in equipment and scholarships.


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